Arkansas is blessed with many women musicians that make great music. Rachel Fields, Rachel Ammons, Crow Johnson, Anna Jordan, Tiffany Christopher, Rena Wren, Christine DeMeo, Chrissy Payton, Shannon Boshears, Jamie Lou, Bonnie Montgomery, Ashley Richardson and so many more.
Three of the very best will present a killer show at The Big Chill on Thursday, July 27. Christine DeMeo, Anna Jordan and Rena Wren will present an evening of all original music for the evening, calling it Girls With Guitars. On top of this, the club will have no cover charge, as is the normal Chill approach.
Christine has been trying to put this show together for a long time. She's proud to share the stage with these two strong players, and say's she can't wait for the night.
"We're all so busy, between gigging and families and jobs it's a wonder we've got a date together."
Hailing from Hot Springs, she's been musical since she was born, although nobody else in the family "felt the urge."
"I've written 50 or 60 songs in my lifetime. I consider 4 or 5 to be hit-worthy…with the right presentation.
"I was probably 7 or 8 when it became a serious way to have fun.
How long have you been playing guitar?
"I started playing guitar when I was 13 or 14…I felt like since I'm writing songs I need to learn an instrument just to accompany myself.
Who would you say has influenced you?
Shawn Mullins and Melissa Etheridge and Bonnie Raitt have been major influences because they've got it together.
Who all have you played with?
I've mostly started my own bands through the years, but I've been a member of the Ned Perme band now for several years. I play guitar and sing harmonies. He does these Christmas shows and I'm lucky enough to be a part of these.
Larry Womack and Dayton Waters are two of my top musical heroes, and have been behind me every step of the way. In everything.
What are your goals?
I'd like to make a complete career of this. One of my biggest goals at this point is to create a songwriter's group to promote original music.
My last two albums were on CD Baby…
What instruments do you play?
I play drums, bass and guitar, but am mostly musical as a vocalist. But then the voice is the ultimate instrument. It's only due to your ability and your imagination. And I have a strong imagination…
Rena Wren started writing songs when she was just a young girl, and she has written hundreds of tunes.
Her only released set thus far was the album was Maybe Today in about 2006.
"My current band (myself, Rodgey Roach, Matt Stone, David Bishop) has been together for over 10 years. We have this sort of interwoven sound that comes through regardless of the genre of song.
"My songs sort of pick their own style, so sometimes they sound folk and Americana-influenced and other times they sound more rock and indie-influenced.
"My band is amazing. They weave this tapestry of life around my songs that honestly still blows my mind. My songs would be lonely without my bandmates' own creative input. I am so grateful to them for running with whatever craziness I throw at them.
"I have only been in one other band, Firefly, with Chris Atwood, Paul Peterson, Laura Lynn Danley and Jeremy Ricketson.
"Laura and I met over 15 years ago doing theatre at The Weekend Theatre in Little Rock. We gathered some friends to support us in playing songs we each had written. I was brand new to playing my songs in front of people. We found this magical harmony and we still play shows together from time to time. We released a cd back then (2006?) called Maybe Today.... I think my friend Roger Gray may have a copy of it. I lost track of it!
Anna Jordan is originally from the Dallas area. Not quite remembering the date, she celebrates Dallas, but then after looking around a bit she really doesn't think she's from this planet whatsoever. "I'm still waiting for the ships to come back for me…"
"I've been singing since I was 4. One of my oldest memories is remembering my mom playing Pearl…I grew up listening to Janis Joplin and stuff like that. I remember she was in the kitchen doing dishes, and I was singing along, and she heard it. She said 'that's beautiful! Keep it up' and I did…I'm still doing it…"
How long have you been playing guitar?
"That's an easy one…I picked up the guitar four years ago…it came natural and I've been doing guitar ever since…"
Do you have brothers and sisters that play?
"Yes, but they don't perform out so-to-speak…everyone in my family is musical in some way or another. But I'm the only one who really pursues it as a business…"
How long have you been performing?
Since I was about 4…
When did you start writing songs?
I was about 15 or so, and I was playing music….
Who would you say have been your biggest influences?
Janis, of course…she's one of the most substantial artists in my life.
And all the great women singers. Aretha Franklin is another. To go into this man-controlled industry at the time and do so well, she has what I'd call 'real balls'…
And let's face it, anyone who lives this life not only hangs on and builds a strong career, but keeps their life intact at the same time, has the greatest gift of God. Making music and entertaining are about the funnest things I can think of.
Are you three going to do any of your tunes together?
We've talked about that and probably will.
The owner of the club, Gina Parks, had this to add: "These are three very strong women, and I look forward to their combined energy for this show. It's the sort of thing I've really liked to do throughout all the years I've been in the club business - provide a venue for original artists to give their music to us…and the whole world if you think of it…"
Girls With Guitars will happen at The Big Chill on Thursday, July 27th. As mentioned, there will be no cover charge.
If you’ve been around the Hot Springs Music scene at all, chances are you’ve caught a set with Rodney Herrell playing guitar. Everybody knew and loved Rodney not only for his easy going, down to earth demeanor, but for his soulful guitar work over the years in virtually every venue from here to Timbuktu. Well Folks, this man had suffered a lot in his life, and that suffering came to an end on 7-05-17 at 7:55PM in The St. Vincent’s Hospice wing in Hot Springs. Born with type 1 diabetes he had to inject insulin for most of his life, starting very young. He worked a hard life and drove himself to make it work and obligations in pain that would’ve shut the average person down. He outlived the average life expectancy of his disease, at 50, and now the dreaded diabetes has permanently sent him to his dirt nap.
A great life of music and love was lived by Rodney, and the spa city turned out in force to show this little guitar virtuoso how much they loved him, for the gift of music and comradery he has given us.
Rodney Herrell started playing mandolin & guitar at age 5. Encouraged by his older brother Billy (also deceased) and his parents, he practiced very hard and a few years later was recognized by his peers as a gifted musician and soulful singer.
He never really took it seriously until his early 20’s when he began experimenting with country & blues in various bands. I first met Mr. Herrell in 1997 while I was working at the now defunct Banjo Dan’s Guitar Shop. (God rest his soul). With a love of Stratocasters in common we immediately hit it off as friends. Being from a very musical family, his brother owns Billy’s House of Guitars in Glenwood where he sometimes worked as a guitar tech and instructor, which gave us plenty to talk about.
In 2000 he began performing in Alias Jones and played with them nearly 6 years while his day gig was being an Electrician which turned out to be quite an asset while doing instrument repairs. He Also was a founding member in local legendary pop group Tribe of Five and remained in that band for several years. After playing and performing all over the natural state with The White Lions Band, he landed the job at Guido’s Hot Springs Music Company in 2006 as guitar tech and instructor. This opened many doors for this articulate southern rock/country/blues guitarist as he landed a very lucrative gig playing lead for “The Ronnie Bear Band” and toured the south extensively.
He has filled in for Moonshine Mafia, Delta Donnie, and many others on guitar over the years, and hosted the Clarion all ages jam at Classic’s Sports Bar on Thursday nights may 2011 through May of 2012, where he was the house favorite until he took a hiatus from that event. He has performed with “The Cruise Brothers” with Mike Dollins and Guido Ciardetti on weekends all over Arkansas, but most notably he was a regular at The Oaklawn Casino Bar in Pop’s Lounge in Hot Springs with them.
Infatuated with Peter Green and Stevie Ray Vaughan since their inceptions, he can accurately mimic the sweet single coil sounds of Hendrix, The Vaughans, The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and many more blues & southern rock legends. Armed with his three favorite 1970’s strats and his hot rod Deville, he would amaze and suprize some of the most devout cynics with his smooth flowing chops and soulful, creative expressions, his tone was pleasing to all who hear it, and he strived for excellence in his playing and overall sound. Peter Read was quoted as saying: “You don’t play like that unless you’ve been through some life”. “Excrementum Occurrum”. (Shit Happens).
Brothers Beckham Band, Mitchel 19, Mason 15 and Levi 20, from Sheridan Arkansas, just south of Little Rock are a pot of gold for a seasoned music industry mogul like Sam Taylor (manager/producer ZZ Top, Kings X, Third Day) who knows that often more than not the future of good music comes from the most unlikely places. ‘There’s something in the water in the real South!’
So when Sam's ‘cousin’ Max Taylor, told him about the Brothers Beckham Band, Sam not only took an immediate interest he contacted me, his third world travel project/partner/documentarian and friend Jimmy Stratton. I developed Grammy winners Los Lonely Boys among other things and since meeting Sam in the jungles of Nicaragua among the Miskito Indians many decades ago we became blood brothers from a different mother!
Fast forward to now... Sam calls and says ‘come join me in Little Rock to see my cuz Max’s new discovery", so I joined him, no questions asked. Max Taylor, a founding father of the Arkansas Blues Society, and a great musician and songwriter in his on right, invited Sam to witness first hand this musical reincarnation reminiscent of some of 1967’s finer radio moments -- this group The Brothers Beckham Band...
I met Sam at a Little Rock hotel, we had dinner, caught up on old times and then went to the Brothers Beckham Band ‘gig’. During their performance I kept texting Sam, sitting at the same table, “this is like Cream!" "... with Hendrix on Guitar" "... and CSNYs (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) vocals!" "... with Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughn thrown in for good measure!” Later, we were astonished with what we witnessed and we both agreed, we were mesmerized!
It's a historical natural phenomenon that has proven true time and time again: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, where youth that defied time - old souls inhabiting young teenage bodies of future rock royalty that carried the torch forward to another generation.
We agreed, Brothers Beckham Band embody all this and more.
Mason, sporting his natural red ‘Afro’, not old enough yet to legally drive in Arkansas, channels tones and virtuosity of legends gone by, effortlessly playing guitar left or right handed, behind his back, with his teeth and sometimes while defying gravity. Mitch lays down a bottom with his Fender P bass that pulses with the confidence of a seasoned British rocker and Levi pounds the skins in s Sam’s words, "one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard, both live and studio ready!"
With time on their side, and the nurture of their musical DNA from their dad, Jody, a great guitarist in his own right, Arkansas’ Brothers Beckham Band could quite possibly set the music world on fire before the youngest member who is home schooled finishes high school. Could? They will if Sam and I have anything to do with it!
See for yourself at Toad Suck Daze | Conway, Arkansas when Brothers Beckham Band take the stage May 6th at 6:15 pm.
You just never know who else may be watching!
The Ozark Folk Center has geared up for another exciting annual musical and artsy-craftsy program.
Tickets and information at nightflyingpublication.com.
The official 2017 season kicks off on Thursday, April 13 with the first of many evening concerts. Evening concerts in the large auditorium begin with a free youth concert from Music Roots students from Mountain View area schools. Evening concerts continue through the season each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Admission: Evening Admission
Then on April 20 - 22 is the annual Dulcimer Jamboree: Three days of workshops, jams, and special concerts featuring some of the best instructors for both Mountain and Hammered Dulcimers in a round robin style format. Students can take classes from all instructors at all levels of play.
Arkansas State Championship Dulcimer Contest
April 22, 2017
Visitors can watch the excitement for free as the best dulcimer players compete for the state title. This sanctioned contest will allow winners in each division (mountain and hammered) to earn a trip to the national finals at Walnut Valley in Winfield, KS. Cash prizes and hand crafted instruments are awarded to winners in each discipline.
Contest rules, format and times will be available online at www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.
April 29, 2017
7 pm - 9 pm
Celebrity Concert A.J. Croce
Tickets on sale for A.J. Croce with a concert date of Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. in the Large Auditorium at the Ozark Folk Center State Park.
Learn more about A.J. Croce, the son of legendary artist Jim Croce, watch a special video he sent us of him singing a song in honor of his dad's birthday, and how to buy tickets here: ozarkfolkcenter.com/music/celebrity-concerts/ofccelebrityconcertajcroce.aspx
May 7, 2017
2 pm - 3 pm
Sunday Court Square Music Concert Series
Court Square Mountain View
The concerts are held on the Court Square in Mountain View, Arkansas the first Sunday of every month-Many through October. Performances are free of charge and run from 2-3p.m. under the shade of the oak tree on the east side of the Court House. Following the performance, each band will host an open pickin'session from 3-4p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and instrument to join the pickin.
May 13, 2017
12 pm - 12:30pm
Women of Mountain Music
Bessie Moore Deck, Next to Old School House
Concert features local musicians and guest performers honoring the long tradition and continuing artistry of women who have made a lasting inpact on the music of the Ozarks.
Mary Gillihan was blessed to have known Alameda Riddle, Jean Jennings, and many of the women ballad singers of the Ozark past. Mary will share their songs and stories with you.
May 19 - May 20, 2017
Arkansas State Championship Thumbpicking Contest
Visitors will see the best compete in this free event held throughout the afternoon. Contests are held in two disciplines, traditional thumbpicking and contemporary fingerstyle. Cash prizes are awarded for winners in each category and the contemporary fingerstyle champion wins admission to the national finals at Walnut Valley in Winfield, KS.
May 27, 2017
2 pm - 3 pm
Craft Village Feature Concert
Craft Village Music Pavillion
Participate in an energizing day celebrating Ozark music with workshops, dialogue, and group playing with Mark Bilyeu, Cindy Woolf, Clarke Wyatt, and Betse Ellis.
June 4, 2017
2 pm - 3 pm
Sunday Court Square Music Concert Series
Court Square Mountain View
The concerts are held on the Court Square in Mountain View, Arkansas the first Sunday of every month-Many through October. Performances are free of charge and run from 2-3 p.m. under the shade of the oak tree on the east side of the Court House. Following the performance, each band will host an open pickin' session from 3-4 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and instrument to join the pickin'.
June 23 - June 24, 2017
2017 String Band Weekend
String Band Weekend
Hone your skills as an ensemble performer in guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo. Classes are focused on group playing and performing with guest instructors from across the country.
In addition to the musical activities, The Folk Center offers arts and crafts workshops and an array of the life in the mountains activities.
Contact the Folk Center at 877-879-2741, or visit it online: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Bilyeu, Cindy Woolf, Clarke Wyatt, and Betse Ellis
In its third year, the Spa City Blues in the Schools (BITS) program, sponsored by the Spa City Blues Society, is working hard to “keep the Blues alive” in the next generation of musicians. BITS is a program that focuses on the Blues genre, teaches history related to blues music and includes musical performance skills. The students learn to play or enhance their skills on an instrument of their choice with vocal coaching included.
Blues in the Schools meets in the student center at National Park College in Hot Springs on every other Sunday from 2:00-5:00 PM. The Blues in the Schools program is open to all youth grades 7-12, with no skill requirements beyond being willing and eager to learn.
Under the leadership of Sherree Hughes, student musicians are mentored and taught by local musicians in their chosen instrument, and then given the opportunity to perform. The BITS band has taken part in several local events including performing for the last two years at the Hot Springs Blues & BBQ Festival and this year at the Hot Water Hills Art and Music Festival. In addition the BITS Kids have performed at venues such as Jim’s Razorback Pizza. Members also traveled to the Rentiesville Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival in Oklahoma last September. In January they performed for the second year on Beale St. during the annual International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis Tennessee. Friday evening with a standing room only and playing to a packed house the Spa City Youngbloods took to the stage at Club 152 on Beale Street to share their unique take on Blues classics such as Messin’ with the Kid, Sweet Home Chicago, Crossroads, and John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom. The Youngbloods also debuted an original song- music and lyrics composed by the youth band members- titled “Get Out” as their set finale. The way the band adhered to traditional I, IV, and V, 12 bar blues form in their composition is testament to the focus on Blues tradition and history that the kids have received as part of the well-rounded musical education provided by the Blues in the Schools Program
The International Blues Challenge and Youth Showcase were produced by The Blues Foundation. Youth blues bands from every part of North America and from around the globe converged on Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street Friday morning (1/29/16) to take part in a workshop that brought together up-and-coming youth blues musicians to learn about stage presence, traditional blues performance techniques, and how to cultivate the friendships and networks that will keep their careers moving in the years to come. The youth musicians were given the opportunity to perform on stage with fellow ‘Blues Kids’ that they did not know in a jam session led and directed by Fernando Jones who is on the faculty at Columbia College and is the founder of Blues Kids of America.
An added note to the credit of the Spa City Blues in the Schools program is one of the BITS members, Ethan Kuntz, recently made it through the Little Rock auditions and received a ticket to Hollywood on the popular TV show, American Idol. Ethan is now working with Wes Jeans to further develop his musical talent and will be playing some solo shows and festivals, including Eureka Springs Blues Weekend on Father’s Day weekend.
Efforts are underway to help support the program and provide instruments for members who cannot afford them. The Spa City Blues in the Schools Spa City Youngbloods are holding a benefit dinner & show on May 14 at the Low Key Arts Building in Hot Springs. (118 Arbor) The BITS band, Spa City Youngbloods, will be performing a set of classic Blues songs, along with their original song, “Get Out”. For ticket information, to find out more about the Spa City Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools program, or to offer other program support, please contact Sherree Hughes via the Spa City Blues in the Schools Facebook page- facebook.com/SpaCityYoungbloods .
“Play something fast! Play something up-beat!”
How many times do we hear this as musicians.
I guess it depends on the band but sometimes a lot, sometimes not much still at some time or another it will be heard. Yes fast, upbeat music can stimulate people to dancing, shaking off their worries, drinking and letting loose, letting out that inner self that they rarely show and simply just having a good time. That is wonderful and it is also the way a lot of hard working people like to let off steam at the end of a hard work week. I know I do sometimes myself. It brings me joy to see people reacting to music this way, it’s a temporary freedom from all their worries and it is medicine that can ease the pain for a moment. I know from experience that music can heal much deeper than a temporary fix though and it doesn’t always come with loud applause and praise for the musician providing the music. Sometimes the response is silence.
As musicians we need to ask ourselves this question: “Why do we do what we do?”
I once heard Janis Joplin say something along the lines of how she needed the love she received from her fans. It was what she survived off of. There were people all over the world who seemed to worship her but was it enough? Was the loud applause, the screaming the worshiping of her talents from sea to sea enough to full-fill her deepest emptiest places? I look at her life and see her intense addictions, the anger she displayed toward others, the emotional roller coaster ride she took, her many sexual relationships with men and women and her lack of sobriety in everyday life. I look at all this and I would say, no she was not filled, she was indeed a rock star and worshiped by many but she was miserable and lived a rather lonely life in constant search for love and acceptance and tragically her life as a Rock Legend came to an end at a young age. Being worshiped by other people, no matter how many, builds a false reality that no human can live up to and a untrue love that will never give the soul what is needed to fully survive this life on earth. We can magically reach that big high on stage one night and spend the rest of our lives trying to find it again, only to find it isn’t there…. Is it worth bearing our souls to strangers only to be let down when we discover what we anticipate isn’t really ever there?
When I was in my early 20’s I lived in the Bay area I spent some time singing in some of the same areas many of our American musical legends did. It was a great high for a girl from Arkansas and my eyes were wide. I touched the same lamppost, strolled the same streets sang on the same stages.. I had the opportunity to sing at the Monterrey Blues Festival in the 90’s as well as some small West Coast clubs. I use to sing in a bar outside of Salinas where a group of bikers hung out. One of the bikers I would visit with when I sang there, dated Janis when she first moved to CA. I heard lots of stories from him. I met one of her girlfriends one time after singing in a club in San Fran who approached me to tell me I reminded her of her friend Janis when she was younger. I met several of her friends in this manner during that time and the one thing I heard over and over and over again from people who knew her well was how unhappy Janis was and how unkind she could be because of it. At this time in my life I had just ended two tours on the east coast where I had the opportunity to sing for hundreds to thousands of people who showed their appreciation with a huge explosive response every-time and at times even chanting my name. My 20 year old head was growing like a red ego balloon that would certainly pop. I had the bug and I was headed down that same highway that so many musicians ride on once they catch that bug. I believed that I needed that sense of worship and love to survive, I needed it to feel alive but I still was not content in the deepest parts of me. After a west coast tour I became pregnant with my first daughter Cecilia. Suddenly I had someone other than myself to think about and the ego bug had to take a back seat, even though it still likes to buzz around at times. I would say my children may have saved me from a world of misery and they are always here to let me know if I step out of line.
In my 20 some year career of playing music all over the country and in some different parts of the world, I’ve seen many different reactions of appreciation and for a long time I thought: ”If we don’t get them screaming, clapping or dancing then it must not be good.” I have learned that this is not always the case. One of the greatest accomplishments I’ve discovered as a singer is when I can look out at an audience who is listening intently, there is a light on their cheeks and a tear in their eye. A reaction of this kind is not followed up with loud clapping and cheering, it doesn’t always cause a person to jump to their feet. Rather, it causes them to fall back into their seat, releasing some sort of weight as they bring their hands together to their chest while tears run down their face and their head nods with content revelation. This is a reaction that does something much deeper, the music has been used as a medicine and has caused the person to feel something in their soul, in their heart, in their entire being. It has caused a person to think, to feel, to reflect, to believe and reveal to them a piece of themselves they have yet to search. It causes a person to stop running and breath in truth. It causes a healing that is eternal not temporary. This sort of healing gives a different sort of joy and will cause a person to dance inside of themselves because they are experiencing spiritual freedom. This is also a reaction that I can not take credit for. It is brought on by the gift giver, the Creator, the Divine God through the Holy Spirit.
Although it’s always a great satisfaction to receive great dynamic applause and physically stimulating movement in return for the music your putting out there, it is only fleeting and is not a promise we can live off of.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a few cold beers, shaking off the week load, kicking it with my homies.. so to say and letting loose, but it is not what I live for and it can grow old.
So when I ask my self the question: “Why do I do what I do?” My answer would be I no longer do it for approval, for applause, to be loved or worshiped by others but I do it because it’s what I was born to do. With or without applause and sometimes even with great disapproval. I know that God created me to do this and it is what He wants me to do. Knowing your gifts have pleased God by being a part of a true transformation in someones heart…now that is a treasure that can not be lost, grow weary, be broken or stolen.
That is medicine that heals, not just temporarily mask a symptom.
That is the sound of an entirely different applause and is not Loud, Fast or Hard.
It is often silent.
North Central Arkansas Amphitheater continues rich history
with the 37th Anniversary of the Strawberry Jam
...Already touted as best musical lineup anywhere in decades it's time to Boogie in Bald Knob!!
In 1980 a then young Barth Grayson promoted his first concert at his family's farm just outside of Bald Knob. It was his love of music that started this journey that has spanned several decades and included several annual events including the Knobstock, the Arkansas Jam, and Indian Summer Jam.
Now, some 37 years later, comes what may well be the most spectacular show of all, the 2017 Strawberry Jam Music and Arts Festival! With 26 acts set to perform over four days (May 18 - 21) and a bonus early bird 'Campfire Jam' for early arrivals that Thursday, this is a festival you won't want to miss! Many of the acts are touting this as the best lineup they have ever been a part of! The overall headliner is the Ben Miller Band who just finished a European tour with ZZ Top.
Some of us still remember the Grayson Family Farm when the first shows were staged on a hay wagon, then a new front porch/stage was constructed on an old homeplace on the property. They were successful enough that in 1982 an actual stage complex was constructed. It was christened the North Central Arkansas Amphitheater and Arkansas musical history was made.
The first national act, Black Oak Arkansas, performed that fall on October 26. The next year, 1983, Head East and international superstars Metallica played the stage. From 1984 until 1988 classic rockers such as Rare Earth, Autograph, Georgia Satellites, BTO, Molly Hatchett, Foghat, and the all-time crowd record setter Nazareth saw crowds from 1,000 to 4,000! In 1988 Leon Russell and Edgar Winter were featured at the Strawberry Jam. Then a cross-over country attempt was made with Dan Seals, John Anderson, David Alan Coe and Delbert McClinton.
The first "Knobstock" - in celebration of the original Woodstock - was held in 1988 at the amphitheater and featured original Woodstockers Canned Heat. They were flown in specifically for this celebration from Las Angeles. Now, with over 50 concerts and 36 years under his belt, Barth Grayson is back in the concert promotion business. The 1994 Strawberry Jam featured Firefall and Mark Collie,
In 1989 Grayson held the first ticketed event at Little Rock's Riverfront Amphitheater hosted by the Arkansas Jaycees. Starting with Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers, Blackfoot and Kansas then partnering for major events such as Dwight Yokum, Moody Blues, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, Grayson's Media Masters Entertainment Group also helped produce the largest show on record at Riverfront... The legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd with a crowd rivaling 15,000.
Bottom line is you won't want to miss the 2017 Strawberry Jam Music & Arts Festival! Full 4-Day Festival Armbands - $45.00 Advance at
HYPERLINK "http://www.eventbrite.com/e/strawberry-jam-tickets-33068009306" www.eventbrite.com/e/strawberry-jam-tickets-33068009306. They will be $60.00 At The Gate (Includes Parking & Camping). Friday - $60.00 at Gate • Saturday - $50.00 at Gate • Sunday Only - $20.00. Visit HYPERLINK "http://www.openairproduction.com" www.openairproduction.com for more concert info!
Lineup for the 2017 Strawberry Jam Music & Arts Festival
Thursday, May 18: Gates open at 12:00 noon for early arrivals, the entertainment will be an open performance known as the "Campfire Jam. Bring your acoustic instruments and join in the fun around a massive bonfire! (An extra $15.00 per carload fee gets you a first come-first served choice of campsites).
Friday, May 19: Dance Monkey Dance (Doug Dicharry): “Dance Monkey Dance!” was formed out of the necessity to create. Doug Dicharry spent years honing his chops in a succesful international touring band, but needed to get back to his roots and rediscover his love for playing music. Even while becoming a talented multi-intrumentalist (drums, trombone, trumpet, mandolin, washboard, spoons), he decided to pick up the guitar and has been obsesively writing songs since. The guitar laid the foundation for what would become the core of DMD, but there was something missing. Doug craved the driving beat created by the drums, so he built the STOMPSTAGE!!! It’s an amplified mobile stage which creates two different unique percussion sounds, boom – crack. With soulful vocals, percussive guitar, loop rigs and the steady stompstage backbeat, he has penned an evolving repertoire of songs about life on the road, zen, and the mysteries of death. Dance, Monkey, Dance is the perfect name, because this monkey is literally dancing while playing for you!
Chucky Waggs and the "Company of Raggs" band: Chucky Waggs (Charles Adam Wagner) is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/ songwriter based out of the hills of Eureka Springs, AR. Currently performing live shows as a one man band act, Chucky Waggs plays a mix of guitar, banjo, harmonica, and kazoo, all while using his feet to stomp out the back beat on a thrown together drum kit. The result ranges from intimate, often humorous, folk ballads, to all out rowdy stomp alongs. He eventually found an appreciation for early American blues, and jugband songs, as well as early country, folk and bluegrass for, what he sees, as a similar energy and simple natured approach. With songwriting and story telling that is at once as sincere as it is tongue and cheek and as modern as it is timeless.
Magnolia Brown: Magnolia Brown was formed in 2008 as a "cover band". It was quickly found this was not a cover band! Every MB gig is made of improv jams crazy covers, great originals! They have built a reputation as never playing same show twice. Between lengthy jams and a diverse set list there is no place for boredom in these shows. The members are: Len Binning (lead vocals,guitar,harmonica); Sam Apperson (lead vocals,lead guitar); Bob Yeager (bass); Scott Patterson (keys); and Derek Russell (lead vocals,Drums).
The Martyrs: All we could get on these guys was "Dogtown, Arkansas bred. Forged in Rose City." That says a lot because if you made it past 21 in Rose City you had to be tough as a box of rocks.
Dirtfoot: For over 10 years, Dirtfoot has been spreading their infectious grooves and their unique Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie sound. The crowds come to take part in the fun and chaos, hollering to all the calls and responses, shaking their beancans, and getting down with the infectious grooves. Led by Matt & J, Dirtfoot is a blend of eclectic styles as well as diverse personalities. Featuring instruments ranging from guitar, banjo, trumbone, upright bass, drums, percussion and more, this band has a truly unique yet familiar sound. Dirtfoot - a delicious, spicy, dirty band that will make you stomp your feet, shake your ass and yell like a lunatic on a full moon night. Band members are: Matt Hazelton - Lead Vocal, Guitar; J Bratlie - Banjo, Back Vocal; Spencer Teekell - Upright Bass; Wayne Anderson - Lead Guitar, Back Vocal; Doug Dicharry - Trombone, Percussion, Back Vocal; and John Hoffman - Drums.
Tyrannosaurus Chicken: Amazing! Two musicians from west Arkansas named for a cross between a tyrannosaurus and a chicken! Talent galore! Sound like a full band! These two play multiple instruments while singing! Smilin' Bob Lewis and Rachel Ammons are Tyrannosaurus Chicken. Bob plays slide guitar, dobro, dulcimer, keyboards, mandolin, banjo, bass and harmonica. Rachel's skill includes fiddle, cello, viola, Jew’s harp, ukulele, slide guitar, drums and clawhammer banjo. These two sing either solo or duet.
Mountain Sprout: Mountain Sprout has the look of wild all over them. Their appearance can only leave you thinking 'backwoods' with long beards and bib overalls.. The Quartet plays wild and loose, sawing fiddles or tearing up banjos. Their funny songs about 'smoking', drinking and fighting are delivered with intensity and a sense of believability. What you will (or at least should) feel about Mountain Sprout is that they’re the real deal - genuine - no game playing egos. Members are Grayson Klauber, Chucky Waggs, Nathan McReynolds and Kyle Young.
Saturday, May 20: Gabe, Justin and Ken: Three usually solo acts coming together to welcome everyone to Saturday morning at the Strawberry Jam! Gabe has been the Master of Ceremonies for decades while Justin Bratcher and Ken Smith are up and coming younger members of the musical community. Old meets new and it's always fun!
The Nevers: The Nevers are from Trumann and Osceola, AR, and have been together since 2014. The band consists of Beth "Rockstar" Sexton - Lead Vocals; James Riney - Vocals & Guitar; Derek Hisaw - Vocals & Drums; and Mike Cox- Bass. The Nevers have been busy playing at the following venues: KnobStock,The Office, The GoldStar, LA Night's...Plum Point, Trumann Wild Duck Festival VFW's across the land....Oh...and The Strawberry Jam baby!!
Hard Cider Boys: An Americana/ Bluegrass based band from Ozark, AR, the band consists of Doc Robertson on Banjo and Dobro. He has a long history of playing in traditional Bluegrass bands and is a retired dentist. Kendall Hopkins handles the stand-up Bass. He has been in Bluegrass and Americana type bands throughout his career. He is a cave diver and manager of a auto body paint store. And lastly we have John Umholtz on Guitar and Kick Drum. He has played in several difrent bands throughout his life, mostly bluegrass and grew up a preachers son playing from the age of 10 in church. They all collectively write their songs, some together as a band and some individually, and really enjoy playing together because they can come together and arrange songs as a group, it makes for a more dynamic Americana sound by mixing rock, blues and bluegrass progressions into our sound.
The Arkansas Bro's.: The Arkansas Brothers music has sprouted from the heavy influences of gospel, blues, rockabilly and country, much like the cotton that bursts from the rich Arkansas delta soil they were raised on. Tim and Jess Hoggard, along with Matt Pierce have been playing music and touring regionally, nationally, and abroad for over two decades. They have shared the stage with such names as: Jimbo Mathis and the Tri-State Coalition (which Pierce is also a member of) Billy Lee Riley, Big Jack Johnson, Mark Sallings, Sonny Burgess, Jim Dandy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, Hubert Sumlin, Lil Howlin Wolf, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, North Mississippi Allstars, Todd snider, Bernard Allison, Alvin Youngblood Hart, The Black Crowes and Robert Plant to name a few.
Jason Kinney Band: Here is a very different Americana Jam Band that pairs original music with timeless lyrics based on roots stemming from bluegrass to hard rock. The Jason Kinney Band pairs original music with timeless lyrics grounded in life experiences. Pulling from his musical roots covering the spectrum of rock from bluegrass to hard rock, Jason utilizes his natural songwriting abilities to bring listeners into his world by offering them the opportunity to escape into his music. Like any piece of art a musical performance doesn't just happen. The band works diligently to bring their performance to such a level, that quite often fellow musicians are in attendance showing their support. The honesty in his vocals and his passion for music will captivate you as Jason doesn't simply play music he embodies it. "My inspiration comes from the musicians I've surrounded myself with throughout my life'" says Kinney.
Ransom: (out of West Memphis) This Memphis Rock Band formed in 1981 and have played many of the shows at the North Central Arkansas Amphitheater since 1983. Originally with 6 members, Bill Kellon - Vox (81 - Present), Kenny Kellon - Guitar (81 - Present), Chuck Davenport - Guitar (81-89), Wade McVay - Guitar (81-89 & 99-04), Ricky Tatum - Bass (81-04), Scotty Miller - Drums (81-85 & 95-04), Vernon Barker - Drums (85-89), Jack Hardin - Guitar (96 - 98). Since 2015 Bill & Kenny were joined by Eric Mortenson - Drums and Don Cox - Bass. Guaranteed to rock your socks off!
David Kurtz and The Lineup: If you who have been following Memphis music for a while, you will know the name David Kurtz. David was in a group called The Next which later became Looker. He opened for Chicago at Mud Island with just his acoustic guitar for accompaniment in 1991. So he has been around for a while. David left years ago but has returned to Memphis in a big way. He has put together a new band called the Lineup. In mid 1983 Kurtz (The Next, David Kurtz Band) and guitarist Ricky Triolo (Medieval Steel) joined White Kid Leather members David Wade, Billy Maharrey, Tony Maharrey and Mike Hutchison to form the original line up of Looker. The writing styles of Kurtz, Wade, Triolo and Maharrey made a great match combining Rock, Pop and Folk with hard driving guitars, keyboards, big harmony's and a rock steady rhythm section made for a sound that was unforgettable.
Arkansauce: Arkansauce is a genre-hopping, four piece string band from northwest Arkansas, bending the rules and blurring the lines between bluegrass, newgrass, folk, Americana, and country. With two albums under their belt in the last two years, and a loyal following growing every day in the Natural State, the band is proud to be stepping into a hard-driving sound they can call their own. Their roots go back to 2011 when founding members Ethan Bush, Zac Archuleta, and Stephen Jolly began picking together after becoming acquainted through mutual connections in the close-knit Fayetteville music scene. After a couple of years building a repertoire of original music and releasing their first album as a trio, they were joined by Tom Andersen on the upright bass and Adams Collins on the five-string banjo. An Arkansauce show is riddled with improvisational guitar, banjo, and mandolin leads, paired with powerful harmonies and heart-felt songwriting. There’s an undeniably intimate connection between the band and their fans that's contagious and leaves everyone in front of, and on the stage wanting more. Arkansauce holds their head high, as they look forward to enjoying everything life and music has in store for them and their fans.
The Ben Miller Band: The Ben Miller Band is not only curious and inventive musically, but also instrument and equipment-wise. The current lineup includes Ben Miller and Scott Leeper, along with Smilin' Bob Lewis and Rachael Ammons from Tyrannosaurus Chicken fame. They just finished a European tour with ZZ Top. Formed, roughly, in 2005, as a result of an open-mic night experiment gone right. Miller, who grew up in rural Washington state before attending art school in Philadelphia, had been working as an open-mike night host in his adopted home of Joplin, Missouri when he met and began playing music with Doug Dicharry and Scott Leeper. Miller fronts the band on guitar (styles include both slide and fingerpicking), banjo, harmonica, and lead vocals. He's also proven to be an accomplished songwriter. Leeper gives the band its backbone, keeping rhythm on his homemade one-string washtub bass. The bass is constructed from a weed-eater string that runs from the end of a stick that sits upon an inverted washtub, to the washtub itself, which presumably houses an elaborate pickup system that gives the instrument's deep resonant sound a lot more volume than you'd expect. Occasionally, Leeper also keeps rhythm on the side of an old-school fire bell that he's transformed into an interesting-sounding drum. Smilin' Bob and Rachael have added a few dozen more instruments to the bands arsenal - including an honest to God "Electric Cactus" - as well as two more great voices. The band plays a gritty, modern mixture of various types of old American heritage music, including blues, bluegrass, folk, and country. Originally, the bandmembers called their sound "Ozark Stomp" as a tribute to the influences from their geographical region, but now refer to it as "Mudstomp" in reference to their label, which focuses on similar music, but in a wider regional area.
Sunday, May 21: Justin Bratcher: Justin Bratcher is one of the most amazing young talents in the region - period. On top of that he is one of the most sincerely honest and likeable entertainers you will ever meet. He has been labeled a Christian or Alternative/Indie artist depending on who you listen to, but his original songs - each a story with a moral - greatly transcend any and all religions or musical styles. His music is human, real, and if you listen to the lyrics you can't help but relate. He has a guitar style that is as unique as each sunrise and a voice to match. If you haven't been to a Justin Bratcher performance you have truly missed out. He will be playing several spots throughout the Strawberry Jam Music and Arts Festival.
DeFrance: Sam Collins and crew are 'old school' rock-n-roll locals. Entertaining, loud and a lot of fun, these guys will get your adrenaline pumpin', your feet dancin' and put your brain in a musical tailspin!
Revolution: Revolution is a band out of NE Arkansas consisting of members from places unknown. Wrap your own imagination around that! They play songs that you want to hear and they hope you sing along with them.
Special Solo Acts: These performers will be keeping the flow going during set changes.
Caleb Ryan Martin: Caleb Ryan Martin, 19, is an acoustic blues and roots musician hailing from the hills of Fayetteville, AR. He's traveled and played music all across the Midwest region, singing with expressive vocals, playing guitar, and picking the banjo. Caleb started playing shows, festivals, and smoky bars at the age of 14 and began touring at 17. Currently, he averages between 150-160 shows a year. In 2015, Caleb released a 4-song self-titled EP. His first full-length album is out now on MudStomp Records.
Ken Smith: In 1998 Ken went solo performing his own brand of acoustic rock/pop across the southern US., and has opened and performed on the same bill as bands like Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers, Bad Finger, Janis Joplin's Original band "Big Bother & The Holding Co.", Devon Allman, Tony Spinner, Ashton Shepard, Earl Thomas Conley, Foghat, Jimmie VanZant and many many more. Ken Smith released his first full length solo CD titled Still Alive in 2004. Ken also released a single from the album, the song "Memphis" which became a featured song on a Depot Records Compilation CD in 2005. "Memphis" was also one of the top voted songs on the Probe online radio show. With the release of a second Independent CD The Black Sheep Diaries in 2005.
'Rascal' Corbin: A local entertainer with a dedicated following Corbin's unique style both vocally and on his guitar make him a pleasure to listen to. Whether doing a cover or one of his own he owns it! He has performed at many of the more recent shows at the amphitheater and is always a good listen.
John Severs: John Severs is another young entertainer worth keeping an eye and an ear on. Laid back and quiet off-stage - dynamic and energetic on-stage with a style all his own.
Jacob Pledger: Jacob Pledger been playing professionally for 5 years is from Mountain View AR. He plays guitar and banjo mainly but can play any instrument you throw at him. Another great young artist with a bright future.
Kevin Smith: A newly found love for the Grateful Dead alongside some interesting coincidence and a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, even in his personality, Kevin Smith presents impressions and musical renderings to honor the late, great artist.
Caleb Williams: Eva, pronounced (ee-n-a), has been playing locally now since 2014 bringing a soulful voice and a spiritual presence to stages all around Arkansas. This two man band is led by up and coming singer/songwriter Caleb Williams and drummer, Kevin Herrington. Williams brings his guitar, voice, and trusty drumming companion, Kevin Herrington, to every show to take you on, what many call, a spiritual journey. eva.'s first full length cd, titled "Questions", dropped April 6, 2016. Keep on the lookout for them at a show near you. You can find eva's music on iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, Amazon, BandCamp, and many others.
“She’s as soulful as they get, a national treasure!” ..Jude Gold of Guitar Player Magazine
“Brick Fields is by far the most soulful artist I’ve heard in years!” ..New Classic Music for Tomorrow
Brick Fields is an Arkansas original musical group fronted by the ambrosial voice of Rachel Fields bring you their ‘Roots’ music using a Folk and Blues platform as with an Americana Soul feel on their new album “Blues Habit”. The Brick Fields foundation is married couple Rachel Fields and Larry Brick.
Rachel cut her musical teeth first in the Arkansas river valley, by way of her Uncle Mike 'Burger' Scoggins, then in the jam band circuit touring in the late 90's east and west coast festivals opening for acts like Gov't Mule and later singing on a tour with JGB. Larry has spent over 40 years in the music business as a guitar player, songwriter and also as a worship leader during the California Calvary movement of the 1970’s.
Brick Fields current core band is a 6-piece treasure of solid creativity including Danny Timms, Ben Sass, Kevin Bonner and Hoobie Daniels. Danny Timms of San Pedro California is a timeless singer-songwriter who has spent multiple years on the road with Kris Kristofferson and the Highwaymen, as well as other legends. Ben Sass of Jerusalem, Israel is the vibrant enthusiastic steed on and off stage, possibly one of the world’s finest up and coming harmonica players on the scene. Kevin Bonner from Northwest Arkansas, honed his drumming chops in the Cate Brother's garage and has been the backbone for numerous of NWA most loved bands. Bass player Hoobie Daniels, of Southern Mississippi via Austin Texas, joined Brick Fields in 2016 after retiring to the Ozark Mountains where he is continuing his musical journey.
Comfortable with themselves and numerous surprise guests, it is not unusual at a Brick Fields show for the night to end with a few or as many as 20 players on stage.
Musician’s musicians Brick Fields has been called a magnet for other musicians and music lovers alike. Ever evolving, this couple’s original music can charm venues in an intimate relaxed setting with the acoustic duo telling stories of musical roots or bring a full-on band experience that brings the house to its feet.
Management and Booking :
Phone: Andy Green (530) 515-0424
We are witnessing the birth of one of the best musicians in the country. Much like Stevie Ray Vaughan, his music is magical, and the entire world is just now responding to this incredible artist.
Akeem Kemp, hailing from Morrilton, has just been one of the finalists at the recent IBC in Memphis. It's a great achievement, especially considering he was competing with nearly 300 of the best blues bands from all over the planet. While he didn't "win" the top position, he made the finals, after several pretrial slots in as many shows, and that was good enough for the record books.
Akeem is a natural musical prodigy, and at 22 years old, has already created and marketed two exceptional CDs of his original tunes.
He will go far, and with his skyrocketing talent, personality and natural humility, we believe he will go very fast.
His list of credits include performing at TCs Midtown and Kings in Conway, The Orpheum Theatre and New Daisy in Memphis, Stickyz in Little Rock, Reno's in North Little Rock, The Big Chill in Hot Springs, both Juanita's, The Big Dam Blues Fest, The Spa City Blues Festival, King Biscuit, and many more regional venues…and now Memphis huge annual International Blues Competition.
He recently headlined at The Biker's Roundup in Barton Coliseum.
He received a standing ovation of the large crowd at last years Spa City Blues Festival, and has already achieved great accolades from the press and followers wherever he has appeared.
Akeem will get to tour this Summer as far as Colorado with many stops between here and there. After that, he will launch a national tour to blues clubs throughout the country.
You should make a point to connect with Akeem locally while you have the chance.
Catch this upcoming talent as soon as soon as you can. It won't be long before you'll have to pay the big bucks to see him in major concerts…if you're lucky. And make a point to buy several of his cd's while you can get them from him personally (and be sure to get him to autograph them now.) By this time next year you'll own some real collector's items, take my word for it…
For bookings, contact Akeem at 501-289-0268, or check him out on Facebook, ReverbNation, Amazon and Youtube.
If anyone tried to tell me I’d be doing this for 36 years I would have asked them if they could get me a bag of whatever they’d been smoking. Here we are at another landmark: the Nightflying 36 year anniversary.
Fact is, the entire concept of NF was just something I felt like doing on the side. I was a solo performer…making music around North America in bars, college campuses and the occasional private party (those pay the best), and had found that the hardest thing about getting gigs was knowing which venues to approach. I missed the underground papers of my teenage youth in Seattle…they always told you the real news you wanted, stuff passed over by the mainstream media…where to party, what shows were coming, where to get concert tickets, how to find the trails to hidden beaches, and even where to get your weed (!)
While playing a week-long gig at a club in Colorado, and having extra hours to waste (since the hours were unusually early, 7 - 10 p.m.), I spent the dead-time in the motel room and dreamed up the concept of creating an all-music underground paper.
At the time, I was based on a mountain top south of Fayetteville, a booming college town in Northwest Arkansas, full of many nightclubs that featured live music most of the time.
After mentioning the idea to my musician friends when I got back home, they all said “Sure” and everyone agreed it would be helpful, I started making a list of the venues, gathering their phones and addresses.
At the time there was a wonderful underground paper in Fayetteville called The Grapevine.
I called the editor/owner Peter Tooker for advice. Being a musician himself, he took me under his wing and helped get Nightflying off the ground…telling me where to print unusual publications, where to call for supplies, and damn near answering all the questions about how to go to press and make it happen.
He did this at the same time realizing it helped me start his immediate competition, for we’d all be hounding these venues for ad dollars. One of his writers, Joe Neal, actually tried to talk me out of it, saying “Peter, this will become your main job, and cut into your time touring on the road making music. Don’t do it…”
(Kids, keep in mind that this was before the term “alternative media” was born…that came about in a few years when the notion pretty much exploded around the country…and people decided to create their own “people’s media”, which, of course, is predominant of the so-called media these days…I called it an underground newspaper…and still think of it that way…)
There was a wonderful magazine called Creative Loafing I had encountered while doing a gig in the Atlanta Underground. I later found out there were several versions of Creative Loafing in different regions.
On the night we were proofing the first pages for the first issue a dj on the radio announced that John Lennon had just been shot and killed. We pulled something up and did a quick article about the murder. We were scheduled to print early in the morning and I had told the people at the clubs I’d leave a bundle at their doors and they’d find them when they got to work.
They were to pick up the first issue and become dutifully shocked when they saw the news about John. Few of them had heard about it yet (there was no internet yet, and most of my friends didn’t pay any attention to the ‘regular’ media…)
I even got phone calls from people accusing me of writing shocking fake news to sell papers.
I didn’t have a clue about anything related to it. I was simply trying to create a work guide for the musicians.
Not having a clue was really the best part, actually. I hadn’t been trained in media, and there really were no rules, other than my personal life rules of being honest and friendly, and emulating the late great Larry Garrison, “hard work and plenty of it.”
As a working musician I’d encountered many colorful realities of the nightclub business, including having been fired from a club for having played the wrong song at the wrong time to the wrong audience…being told that I “lacked taste in material.”
How it happened: I got a job from a booking agent who knew first-hand I would have a tough time doing Bob Dylan and Paul Simon songs as the accompianist for the strippers of this club…without bothering to tell me it was a strip club. I was digging in my mind for any song I knew that might have a good enough beat for them to bump and grind to. Since they had a nice piano, I started banging out the Beatle’s song “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”…the owner of the club came to the stage and unplugged my sound system from the wall by the third verse, and told me in some really serious terms to pack it up and “get the hell out of my club.” “I have a contract!” “I’ll pay your goddamn contract for tonight,” (and he did.) I was 19 years old and the guy looked like an old-school mobster…I was scared to death that his minions were going to chase me down and break my fingers for good measure.
The next day I called that agent.
“That was totally inappropriate. Why did you do that?”
“Did you get paid?”
“I got paid for one night…it was supposed to be a 3 week gig…”
“I want my money…you owe me my commission.”
I said, “You haven’t answered my question: why did you do that?”
“I did. You are playing for money, and now I want my part of it!”
That, my friends, turned out to be one of the best lessons I ever had. From then on, whenever I tried to book a gig, I’d ask them what they were after and what they expected, to see if I was appropriate for the job.
But I degress. Back to the birth of this rag…
The premise: a work-guide for working musicians…including the mailing addresses, phone numbers and contacts. The hardest part of playing around the country was finding the venues and contact information.
I travelled coast to coast throughout North America. I’d get suggestions from everyone who to contact in the next city along the way and what venues to approach…and I gradually worked up my list…
That training proved excellent on how-to approach doing my own such media…and still is (even this many years later)…
After a year and a half of doing Nightflying solely around Northwest Arkansas, there were so many clubs throughout the state asking that their information be included we decided to take NF to a statewide level.
Then after three more years, we started getting the same requests from clubs near our borders, and we added Memphis and Clarksdale and eventually built the thing up to a regional approach. (The publication became recognized as a force to be reckoned with regarding music and club-hopping…with listings and concert dates in the mid-South…anywhere within a reasonable driving distance.)
We made it for free as it still is. Like the radio you listen to in the car, it is completely advertiser supported.
We’ve had subscriptions too, and always charged a reasonable fee to cover the mail expenses.
In 1982 we attended the US Festival, which was an enormous rock festival being put on by Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. In the press booth were reporters from Time, Newsweek, and the Rolling Stone, and many other real publications.
“How did you get your credentials to be here?”
“Some really nice guy named Wozniak gave them to me.”
They all laughed.
I said, “Is that funny?”
Then one of them asked “Do you know who he is?”
I had no idea and told them so.
Put it like this: when I finally was ready to join the computer age, I chose to go with Apple. I felt it was a debt of gratitude. I’m glad I did, too, because in my opinion they pretty much own the “alternative” media.
In 1986 or so a guy named Bubba Sullivan called and asked me to help tell the world about his Blues festival. It was that year the King Biscuit Festival began in Helena, which of course, has become one of the biggest blues festivals in the world.
Also in ‘86 a musician friend I’d recorded with named Louis Meyers called me from his home in Austin, Texas. He told me about a music festival he was creating and asked me if I’d help. I went to Austin for 5 days, and we hashed out and dreamed up what has become South By Southwest - now the largest annual festival of its kind in the world.
I’m proud to say that Nightflying has been a co-sponsor of SXSW each year.
In 1987 I set up office in Little Rock...travelling all over the region, having a centralized location just made sense. Our business was doing well in Memphis, and before long the casino strip along the Mississippi River got in full gear.
Ultimately, the entire job had grown a great deal…there were private clubs with bands in the smallest towns throughout the region.
At the same time we grew even more into southern Missouri and eastern Oklahoma, and essentially creating our region, lovingly referred to, of course, as The Altered State.
NF was based there for 7 years, until one day I heard some screaming outside and looked out the window just in time to watch a guy shoot and kill another guy. In the street. In front of me.
Having already bought my parent’s farm here near Petit Jean Mountain, I decided I didn’t want to pay more rent for this ‘privilege’ so we headed out here in the woods.
My life partner Dianne said “People shoot people out here in the woods, too…” I agreed, but reasoned that it’s not a bunch of crack heads killing each other…as it was very much so in the city. And besides that, out here in the woods it’s what we call mountain justice, and if someone is shooting someone they most probably dseserve it…
Through these 36 years there have been many contributors to these pages.
There was this one nationally syndicated and well-known writer who added to these pages, of course, under a psuedonym. His name, in our pages, was Tom S. Hunter…Doctor Tom S. Hunter…
Others who’ve contributed have been writers Amber Patton, Bob Boyd, Bob Lincoln, Bryon Knight, Michael ‘Burger’ Scoggins, Cindy Scoggins, Carole Ferror, Carole Haynie, Charles Ragsdell, Chris King, David Bogard, David Hughes, Dick Renko, Tommy Roeck, Harry ‘The Printer’ Brownley, Dori Colston, Doug Treadway, Terry ‘Gabe’ Gabrion, Gina Parks, Heather Crosse, Jacob T. Rake, Janice Laffoon, Jeff Weeden, Jennifer McClellan, Jim Gurley, Jim Rose, Sharon Cook, John Zimpel, Julia Udouj, Karen FitzPatrick, Kate Cross, Marc Turner, Meredith Mashburn, Jack Hill, Mike Hawkins, Mike ‘Mudcat’ Acklin, Nancy Paddock, Andy Briant, Peter Tooker, Polly Noble, Reillot Weston, Gorton Hitte, Reade Mitchell, Sharpe Dunaway, David B. Treadway, Sondra Goode, Stacy Copeland, Steve Barham, Steve Evans, Suzanne Renko, Curtis Copeland, Crystal Marshall-Copeland, Steve Evans, Tommy Roeck, Sondra Goode, Jessica Ellis and a boatload of pen-names by a boatload of un-named authors: Dear Flabby, Dear Ed, Dear Doyle, Eli Palasades, Gypsy Woman, Morton Downey Burger, Rona Burger, and of course PR Grunion.
In addition we’ve been blessed with several world-class photographers, including Meredith Mashburn, Jeremy Scott, Sher Spear, Rick Dipley, Sherree Hughes, David Hughes, Bob Dion, Jamie Seed and Martin Herlatcher, to name a few…
Our graphic artists have been very creative through the years, including Steven Fant, Steve Scallion, Terry ‘Gabe’ Gabrion, Amber Patton, John Deering, Lisa Stancil, Jessica Riley, Langley Osborn, Charles ‘Rags’ Ragsdell, Elaine ‘Pax’ Cook, Jeremy Reagan, and so many more.
(Remembering all these off the top of my head is a challenge. There are 36 years to look over…)
Throughout these years we’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many of the industry’s very best musicians: People like Levon Helm (who was a paid subscriber for the last several years of his life), Randy Newman, Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan (three different interviews), Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash, Jim Dandy Mangrum, Mac Rebennak (aka Dr. John), Judy Collins, Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Seger, Steve Miller, BB King, Mick Jagger (and all the Stones), Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ann and Nancy Wilson (aka Heart), Lucinda Williams (back when she still was known as Cindy), Robert Earl Keen, Kinky Friedman, Sting, Coco Montoya (who I met when Polygram Records called and asked if he could come play at one of our Anniversary parties...I said “Sure...if he has to”...), Evanescence, Waylon Jennings, Bela Fleck, Joan Baez, Willis Alan Ramsey, Alice Cooper, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Little Richard, Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash...and countless other luminaries.
The list is as long as a wellrope…
The fact is, Nightflying has been the only music publication in these parts for, well, 36 years. This has given us the sheer privilege of running with the greats many times over.
We’ve print and distributed throughout this Altered State almost all these years. On average we’ve covered some 85,000 miles each year. (Our inside joke is that we’re helping put the Exxon kids through college…)
One year ago we went completely onlign due to health reasons. (My wife Dianne lost her left foot). This edition will be the first printed copy since then…and we are now planning to print at least 4 - 6 times a year…and fill up between them on our incredible web site: Nightflying.com and Nightflying.mobi, produced by webmaster extraordinaire Charles ‘Rags’ Ragsdell.
A recent development is the use of the QR code system. Throughout this edition you will find many of these bizarre web-based barcodes, to be used with smart-phones to take you to band’s websites, videos, actual music to hear while you read, as well as our own Youtube channel, produced by Sharpe Dunaway.
36 years of telling you where to go…sounds like a mantra or something…but the fact is that my original premises have proven to be true: Arkansas musicians, essentially, are world-class. The players are every bit as good as anyone anywhere in the world, if not better.
I’ll put Earl Cate’s guitar playing in the Eric Clapton class. And Tom Ware whips that fiddle as good or better than Charlie Daniels (and plays the hell out of guitar, too). Rachel Ammons is more capable of tearing up a stage than anyone I can compare her with…and she’s naturally beautiful too (fully dressed), more so than anyone you’d ever see in Playboy or Penthouse with no clothes on…and she can immediately play every instrument she gets her hands on. I’ve seen her do this time and time again.
And her partner, Smilin’ Bob Lewis, defines music with every instrument he touches.
Add to these hundreds of other players…in every town, and every club I go to…
Maybe it’s something in the water…?
Who knows what the future might bring?
If I say I plan to do this for another 36 years nobody that knows me would doubt it. (Mentally, of course, I stopped progressing at the age of 13 in 1967…the fact that I continue to feel like that must mean that I’m stuck forever in puberty…)
Looking back, perhaps one of the musicians I met back in the Summer Of Love said it right: “What a long strange trip it’s been…”
I think he was onto something…